5 Reasons I Still Like Fitbit Better Than Nike+ FuelBand

by | Mar 26, 2012

Last month Nike jumped into the high-tech pedometer game by introducing the Nike+ FuelBand. It’s a fun device, and a certain tech dude I know thinks it’s the coolest ever. But I’ve held off on sharing my opinion until I had a few weeks to play with the FuelBand, in order to avoid another early review debacle.

My overall sentiment is positive, and I think the social Facebook integration has A TON of potential. The most obvious comparison is to the failed Jawbone UP, and for the most part I think it is an improvement. The device display is beautiful, and the wireless sync definitely 1-ups the Up. The FuelBand doesn’t appear to break after a week either, which is a nice feature.

I’m disappointed that the device doesn’t have the buzz reminder feature that notifies you when you’ve been inactive for a set amount of time, which was my favorite feature of the Up. The FuelBand also doesn’t even pretend to help monitor your sleep, though I didn’t find that feature of the Up particularly useful since crawling into bed with a bulky plastic wristband isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep.

All that said, you’re probably reading this just to know whether or not the FuelBand is worth buying over the only true competitor remaining on the market, the Fitbit.

5 Reasons I Still Like Fitbit Better Than Nike+ FuelBand

1. Battery life

I’m a tech geek and being plugged in is a way of life. Frequent charging doesn’t bother me too much, and I expect the cool colors and graphics of the FuelBand to eat a little more battery. But when I know I can get 2-3 weeks of life out of a 20-minute Fitbit charge, FuelBand’s 45-minute charge session for a measly 2 days of activity seems like less of a bargain.

I’ve heard some people get better battery life (a whopping 4 days!), but that hasn’t been my experience.

2. Comfort

The most immediately noticeable difference between FuelBand and Fitbit is how you wear it. Though the FuelBand bracelet is slightly more comfortable than the Jawbone Up, I wouldn’t exactly call it unnoticeable and it still makes putting on long sleeves (aka getting dressed in San Francisco) less than simple. Also, my skin has been pinched in the USB clasp more than once. Ouch!

Most ladies I know strap the Fitbit effortlessly to their undergarments and forget about it. Dudes can clip it to their belt or pockets on their jeans.

3. Style

Another problem with wearing a big plastic bracelet is wearing a big plastic bracelet. It’s not hideous, but it isn’t exactly chic either. Personally I prefer my pedometer to be a concealed healthstyle weapon.

4. Simplicity

The graphics are kinda cute, and the social part of the app is definitely cool, but introducing a bizarre new measurement unit seems pretty unnecessary. We already have steps and calories, why do we need NikeFuel? I know when I have gone to the gym, so giving me a number that will be predictably higher on gym days doesn’t add much. I suppose it makes it slightly easier to compare activity among friends, but I still think total steps is a more important number to track.

To be fair Fitbit added an extra number in their latest version—flights of stairs—but this unit actually makes sense to me and adds value beyond simple activity. And in case you’re wondering, no FuelBand doesn’t tell you flights climbed.

5. Price

The $150 price point isn’t crazy, but the Fitbit is about $82 on Amazon right now. That’s almost half the price.

What do you think of the Nike FuelBand?

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36 Responses to “5 Reasons I Still Like Fitbit Better Than Nike+ FuelBand”

  1. Andrew Robinson says:

    I bought a FitBit last week and love it. My BMI is in the high 20s and I have always wondered what my sleep patterns are like. 3 nights with the FitBit and I can rest easy on that front (assuming it is accurate). I didn’t find the wrist band to be an issue at all but don’t plan on using it all that much after I get a few more nights in with it. Thanks for all the info!

  2. Weighthacker says:

    I pretty much agree with your assessment, although one thing I think the Fuel has going for it over the FitBit is it’s less likely to get lost or misplaced. I have a friend who’s lost 2 FitBits already, and mine has almost ended up in the wash a few times because it’s been clipped to clothes and I almost forgot out about it. A bracelet design makes that less likely, at least for me. That said, the “Fuel” measurement is a bit worthless as I have no idea what it means, so I mine to count steps only.

    I still like the UP the best, if they could make a working one. I like that you can set it to vibrate if you’ve been inactive, and I also liked the sleep tracker. It was also less bulky than the fuel. It would be nice if it displayed actual steps, but I’ll live with plugging it into my iPhone (assuming it ever gets back on the market that is).

    As you can tell, I have all three! I’ve also heard good things about the Striiv but have not tried it yet.

    • Brian Egerton says:

      I lost my Fitbit a few times but it turned up each time. I knew that it was only a matter of time before it was gone. The clip has been lost even after my hack but I feel that my Fitbit is safe now.

      How? – regularly my Fitbit came urn clipped from my trousers so I got a reasonably heavy rubber/elastic band and clipped the Fitbit onto it. I now loop the band through a belt loop before clipping the fitbit to my trousers. The fitbit still falls off but now dangles safely like a bungee jumper. :-).

  3. Noelle says:

    I love my Fitbit! I do agree with the “easily lost” sentiment expressed above, but the longer I have it the less likely I am to forget about it. The only thing I want in my Fitbit is more effortless synching. I look at the actual device often to see my steps & calories, but I don’t often sit down at my laptop with the base plugged in. Even with the app (there is now an Android app that I admittedly haven’t tried out yet) I don’t think it will synch wirelessly to the phone. Overall I love my Fitbit and would highly recommend it!

    • Andrew Robinson says:

      FitBit uses a radio technology called ANT and unfortunately, there are currently no mainstream phones that use ANT. Bluetooth Low Energy is new and offers similar low power functionality to ANT. The iPhone 4S supports BLE and I would guess we will start to see BLE devices in the future. Hopefully FitBit moves in this direction with future products.

    • DJM says:

      My Fitbit One connects directly to my Android phone app to synch over bluetooth. It’s so easy I am just amazed at how helpful it’s been.

      • Woody says:

        That’s simply not true. The android fitbit app doesn’t support Bluetooth sync at the moment, nor has it ever. Only ios devices can sync with the fitbit one via Bluetooth.

    • Jay says:

      I love my fit it and yes it does update wirelessly through Bluetooth to android phone you can set for auto update as well

  4. I have the NIKE+ Fuelband, I bought it a couple weeks ago at SXSW, and I would have to say that it’s OK. What I like about it is the fact that I am competing with friends and you don’t want to look like the “lazy one” if your points are at 0. I also like the LED lights and how “cool” it looks and the WOW factor I get when people look over.

    Now the part that I don’t like. I don’t like really wearing things on my skin (I know as a woman it’s probably hard to believe), so the constant touching gets on my nerves, but I’m able to overlook it. It’s also rather thick, but not too thick that I don’t wear it. I also feel like it’s not as accurate because if am laying in bed and I’m moving my arm, it counts it as a step, but I’m not sure how accurate that is…I know that it’ll get better as software updates are released, but I am at a point now where I’m comparing Fitbit and Jawbone UP to see if anything is better. I would like something that tracks my sleep patterns as well, and I know that the Fitbit does this.. It’s just hard to tell if the Fuelband will be worth the money.

  5. I’ve never tried the FitBit, but I have a BodyMedia Fit that I like a lot.

  6. Stacy says:

    I just ordered my FitBit and down loaded the app onto my iPhone. I like the app but I don’t like the food tracker. NONE of the food I eat is in there! Grrrr. I use the MyFitnessPal app right now and the best feature it comes with is the barcode scanner. If you STILL can’t find your food you can quick-add calories if you’re feeling lazy or create your own food – with more details than the FitBit app. Still super excited to get my FitBit but so far I like the MyFitnessPal app better.

    • jennifer says:

      you can sync up your fitbit to myfitness pal.

      I did it last night and it was not that hard. you only need to log exercises and food into myfitness pal via ipod or android or the web. when you sync up your fitbit it will connect, it will add in all your other activities captured in the fitbit…

  7. E. Foley says:

    A note for FitBit users: I accidentally washed my FitBit with my jeans a week ago. It appeared dead when I took it out of the washer, but I stuck it in a cup full of rice and left it for a week and now it’s working again. YAY!

  8. Zachary says:

    Do you have any thoughts on this FitBit smart scale thing they have going on now? How accurate is a body fat percentage from these electrodes?

    Also, I know there’ve been plenty of studies that have associated high BMI with various diseases. Since we’ve gotten the more accurate mesure of fat with body fat percentage, have studies been done that attempt to measure which is a better explanatory variable for these diseases? If one has a relatively high BMI but normal or low body fat percentage, is one still more prone to these diseases?

    Thanks!

    • Darya Pino says:

      I have the new FitBit scale. It’s ok, a lot like the Withings. Don’t rely on them for accurate body fat data, though it is a decent way to measure changes in body fat over time.

      BMI is a fairly poor measure of health. It’s more predictive for average people than athletes, however.

  9. SexiStriver says:

    I’ve been using the Nike+ Sports Kit (the one with the ipod and shoe attachments) for a few years off an on and recently bought the FitBit. However, I find that, if I wear them both, the calories burned are vastly different from one another. e.g. – Fitbit saying 300 cal. and Nike+ Sports Kit saying 950 cal. This was after I walked for 1 hour and 19 min. straight. Which is more accurate and how do I TEST A DEVICE FOR ACCURACY?

    • Darya Pino says:

      The most accurate estimate of you own calories burned would be to get your basal metabolism tested (this involves breathing into a tube for 12 minutes). When you get tested you’ll likely get a personalized sheet with what you would burn doing various exercises. Then you do these wearing both devices and see which is most accurate.

  10. Peter Beck says:

    Got a pair of FuelBands for myself and my wife, after her FitBit popped out of its holder and vanished the first week. The step counter on the Nike band over reads quite a bit (I’m wearing an Omron pedometer to do comparisons), but the lossless feature pretty much seals the deal.

    Also, more of my workouts have branched out from the walking base — kettlebells, clubbells, bodyweight cals — which the FitBit doesn’t tally. The Band does a so-so job of this; 10 swings with a 16 kg KB gets as much credit as 10 arm swings.

    Ideally? Lossless, QS-ing sensors that accurately track steps, and body movement recognizing typical KB/CB/calisthenic moves, AND hearteate. A clip for the shoe, and a well-programmed, tough ring ought to do it :)

  11. TD says:

    Hey Darya –
    I have had the fitbit on my wishlist for months since you recommended it. I am finally about to buy it with some Amazon gift cards I recently obtained. Yay! Walking around town in summer was easy. But we are entering the snow season in my state and I was wondering if you have any ideas for how to get out walking more in winter months. In past years I have walked around despite the snow, but it really isn’t a pleasant prospect.

  12. My FuelBand has a battery life of about 2 weeks not 2 days.. just saying.

  13. John Webb says:

    Got my fitbit one as an Xmas present and I must say that it is the easiest to use gadget I have ever owned. It seamlessly syncs with the iPhone 5 app over Bluetooth and adding activities undertaken and food eaten is a breeze via the iPhone app or website. In fact you can track anything you want via custom entries!
    It is small and potentially could get lost but that’s the only thing I can say against it – wow a gadget that’s too small?! What am I saying ;)

  14. Thomas Penberthy says:

    I got both at Xmas, so my impressions here are from carrying/wearing them both for the last few weeks.

    The executive summary is that I like the FuelBand better, mostly because it’s a bracelet that, while not particularly comfortable, gets positive feedback when others notice it, and I always know where it is.

    Neither is perfect: I wish the Fitbit had a bracelet option, or a better clip. I constantly worry about losing its slippery little plastic self. I almost think they designed it that way on purpose, and that bugs me.

    I wish the FuelBand had alarm functionality, and a better way to show its battery level. I also wish that, when charging, the FuelBand didn’t turn on almost all of its LEDs as the battery fills up. I charge it at night, and even when I hide it under the bed it looks like somebody dropped a light saber under there stuck in the “on” position. My wife has banned it from the room.

    I agree that Nike’s “Fuel” seems arbitrary, but google it. They used some real math and logic when making it up, and it makes more sense against your set goals when you use it over time.

    The Nike app and website are more flashy and fun, the Fitbit’s more spartan and data-centric. They’re both fine for me.

    Nike has a component to the FuelBand and Nike+ website called “Missions” that I have not tried yet but that seem fun. Basically the app notifies you that there’s a mission, and once you accept you have x amount of time to get the mission’s required number of fuel points. Making a video game out of life. Inspiring? I’ll update after I’ve done a few.

  15. Zain says:

    Unlike Jawbone and Nike, the Fitbit organization’s entire focus is on health and wellness. Bought my flex and last week and it has overall made me a lot more conscious of my health. I still do think that there is definitely room for improvements. Looking forward to seeing the next version.

  16. diane says:

    I feel fit bit is like mom jeans. I’m 47 but way cooler than that. The Nike fuel is 100% cooler

  17. diane says:

    touché, but about it sticking on my jackets- in all honesty that doesn’t happen.
    My fashion style is sporty so Nike fuel band bracelet just suits me more than fit bit.

  18. diane says:

    My goodness is this Darya? the site owner?! Hello, very nice place you have here…brilliant

  19. Janene says:

    I just started using the Fitbit One thanks to your recommendation. I love seeing the hard data and it inspires me to get going to reach those 10,000 steps! Now my husband wants one too but he is holding out for one that will track his heart rate. Have you heard of any fitness trackers that will do all that the Fitbit does plus track heart rate?

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